302 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Cablegram 198 LONDON, 21 October 1938

MOST SECRET

Relations with Italy. Understand Cabinet here will be asked at its next meeting on 26th October to take decision on question of bringing into force Anglo-Italian agreement. [1] Prime Minister [2] himself is in favour of application of agreement without further delay as is also Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs [3], but in view of opposition which is certain in Parliament mainly on grounds of continued Italian intervention in Spain notwithstanding recent substantial reduction in such intervention by withdrawal of ten thousand troops, Cabinet may hesitate. In my view question must be considered from much broader aspect than that of Spain. As you pointed out in your telegram to United Kingdom Government, No. 8 of 2nd February last [4], closer Anglo- Italian relations are of utmost importance in the light of general international situation and this consideration was presented to Commonwealth Ministers who attended to question here in July. In my view an Anglo-Italian understanding and improved relations between two countries is even more important today in view of existing situation which requires that British interests in South- Eastern Europe and Near East should be strengthened in every possible way. To bring this about it is essential that Anglo- Italian agreement should be brought into operation without delay.

Great value would attach to views of Commonwealth Government and I suggest an indication would be most desirable from you as soon as possible to the effect that the Commonwealth Government would, on broadest grounds and having particular regard to present state of international relations, welcome early application of Anglo- Italian Agreement.

BRUCE

1 See Document 228.

2 Neville Chamberlain.

3 Viscount Halifax.

4 Document 122.

[AA : A981, ITALY 30, ii]